M A I N   N E W S

Parts of Karontha ashram vacated,
protesters stay put
3,000 Rampal followers shifted 
2 bodies yet to be cremated 
Bijendra Ahlawat/Tribune News Service

Rohtak, May 14
The three-day standoff between the administration and the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha supporters showed signs of abating today with the authorities deciding to evacuate the occupants of Satlok Ashram at Karontha village in Rohtak district.

Most of the 4,000 followers of Rampal were shifted to his ashram at Barwala, Hisar, in Haryana Roadways buses by evening.

“More than 3,000 followers were taken out of the ashram under heavy security cover and shifted to Barwala by 6 pm,” said a source in the police department. The authorities started the evacuation process around 2 pm.

The deadlock, however, persists as the ashram followers have refused to vacate the premises fully and deputed at least 500 persons on a permanent basis inside, contrary to the protesters’ demand.

But police sources said the place was likely to be vacated completely by late tonight.

More than 3,000 protesters continue to hold ground half a kilometre from the ashram. They have refused to cremate the bodies of Parmila (38) and Udaiveer (28) till the ashram is fully vacated. The bodies have been kept at the protest scene since Sunday, when the firing took place.

The protesters had served an ultimatum on the administration to get the ashram vacated by 1 pm today or face the consequences.

Earlier, the authorities attempted to break the deadlock by holding a dialogue with yoga guru Ramdev last night. But Ramdev reportedly backed the demands raised by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha led by Acharya Baldev.

The authorities later decided to invoke Section 144 to get the ashram vacated. Though the ashram occupants, including Rampal’s son, initially refused to budge, they relented after the authorities threatened to use force.

Around 60 Haryana Roadways buses were requisitioned to ferry the followers of the ashram. Over 4,000 followers had assembled in the ashram before the clash took place on Sunday.

The protesters resorted to stone-pelting and damaged three buses approaching the ashram to shift the followers. Some buses carrying the followers also came under attack near Deeghal and Lakariya villages.

A police spokesperson said around 2,500 security personnel, including paramilitary forces, were deployed at the scene. The district authorities were likely to announce compensation to the kin of the two victims.

Traffic remained disrupted on the Rohtak-Jhajjar highway for the third day today.





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